Spanning across the length of The Pages Islands in South Australia and Houtman Abrolhos off the Western Australian coast, Australian Sea Lions, Neophoca cinereal, are a species to behold. They are one of the rarest species in the world, and 85% of them live herein South Australia, while the other 15% lives in Western Australia. In the entirety of Australia, only 9900 – 12,500 remain, with this number diminishing each year.
In the 19th century they were historically hunted for their fur, therefore are now categorised as rare in under theSouth Australian Law and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and have received full legal protection under the National Parks and Wildlife Act since 1972 (Australia, 2014). We are very fortunate to be living in a country with this species, and even more fortunate for the countless opportunities to see these creatures in person. Seal Bay, Baird Bay and Adventure Bay are all locations with tours that can be taken to see these gorgeous animals.
Sea Lions are notorious for their sleek mane, beard-like whiskers and big beady eyes. They are a sexually dimorphic species, meaning males and females have distinct differences, with the adult males up to twice the weight and length of the female (Museum, 2019). Sexes can be identified through their coat colour, with the males having dark brown fur with a yellow colour on their necks and heads. Females are silver in colour with cream underneath, and the pups are chocolate, which disappears after their first moult. Breeding season usually occurs between January and June, and given the females love familiarity they always die at the place of their birth. Their diet consists of a myraid of fish and invertebrates like octopus and squid, and the pups are reliant on their mother’s milk for a year and food for a year and a half, making the length of their bond one of the longest in the animal kingdom.
Australia, G. o. (2014, 12 2). About Australian sea lions. Retrieved from National Parks and Wildlife Services South Australia: https://www.sealbay.sa.gov.au/australian-sea-lion/about-australian-sea-lions
Museum, A. (2019, 03 06). Australian Sea Lion. Retrieved from Australian Museum: https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/animals/mammals/australian-sea-lion/